What to Wear Hiking
Table of Contents
Have you ever gone on an outdoor adventure, only to discover that your ankles have been shredded by uncomfortable footwear, your arms are covered in bug bites, and you’re incredibly thirsty with no water to spare?
Say goodbye to days of hiking horrors and hello to good vibes only with our guide on what to wear hiking.
Of course, style and functionality are key, so you’ll look just as great as you feel. It’s important to opt for clothing, footwear, and accessories that are easy to layer while still being breathable and comfortable. It doesn’t hurt if your attire is also waterproof and blocks UV rays.
All that being said, you may be wondering what to wear hiking. And after reading our guide, you’ll learn some tips and tricks to keep in mind, such as:
- What to wear hiking in hot weather
- What to wear hiking in fall
- What to wear hiking in winter
- What accessories to bring hiking
- What not to wear hiking
What to Wear Hiking in Hot Weather?
When it’s hot out, the last thing you need is a clingy top that only ever wants to attach itself to your sweaty chest. Oversized clothing is definitely the name of the game. It allows your skin to breathe, keeping you cool, and never feeling heavy or dragging you down.
This outfit features a backward cap to keep the hair out of your face, though it can be forwards too for blocking the sun. Pair it with an oversized flannel that can be tied around the waist as the day turns to night and the weather cools down.
The oversized tee and comfortable shorts provide breathability, while the thick socks and hiking boots protect and support your feet. The bag is ideal for carrying any necessities you may need on the hike.
During the warmer weather, you may not want to lug around an oversized backpack or have the extra storage that usually comes with a jacket. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be able to bring all your essentials with you!
Fortunately, cargo shorts offer a simple solution in the form of pockets. And we all love pockets! This pair has a natural khaki color and a short design which is ideal for keeping you cool. The green long sleeve provides a little extra protection, as do the hiking shoes.
Of course, the backpack also provides some extra storage, though it’s a bit on the smaller side so you won’t break (too much of) a sweat as you traverse those desert hills.
Athleisure clothing is designed to be comfortable, but as the name suggests, it’s functional too. It allows for plenty of movement and is often crafted from moisture-wicking, breathable fabrics, ideal for the summer heat.
This look features a pair of light green biker shorts, a comfortable sports bra, and a lightweight jacket in case of a drop in temperature. If it’s too hot, you can always tie the zip up around your waist or store it in your backpack as well.
The trail running shoes also provide support and style on this rocky terrain. Tied back hair is also a big tip for warmer weather since you won’t have any hair in your face or clumping on the nape of your neck.
What to Wear Hiking in Fall?
Cooler days call for comfort like no other. And what’s more comfortable than the most essential hiking apparel brought to you by Patagonia? This quarter-zip has a fluffy sherpa exterior that is sure to keep you warm, especially paired over a turtleneck with a contrasting stripe design.
The hybrid hiking and snow boots provide traction as well as waterproofing for a comfortable trek, while the leggings are fitted and comfortable, ideal for movement and sealing in warmth.
The look is topped off with a simple blue beanie, which pulls colors from the details of the quarter-zip while adding an extra warm touch.
If you’re going for a fall hike, chances are it’s to admire the leaves. And if that’s the case, a photo op is definitely in order. With a coffee in hand and your favorite black puffer vest, you’ll feel warm and comfy, while still being stylish enough for your newest IG post.
Of course, the black beanie and light gray turtleneck provide some warmth as well, while the fitted black leggings provide warmth and compression. A pop of color is added to the look, with some bold red laces threaded onto some comfy and supportive black hiking boots.
Chilly fall days mean layers are a necessity. And what better to layer with than a classic fall flannel? This look features the classic buffalo plaid paired with some light brown khaki pants for a lightweight and comfortable feel.
The chukkas feel casual and simple, ideal for light terrain. Plus, the backpack provides ample storage for whatever you need in the day, while still being lightweight and comfortable to carry. And if you get too warm, simply tie the flannel around your waist or store it in the bag.
What to Wear Hiking in Winter?
If you’re looking for what to wear hiking in the winter that is also super stylish, opt for a waist-length puffer coat and a Burberry scarf. Oversized sunnies definitely have a luxe feel, but they’ll also protect your eyes from the bright white snow.
A pair of knee-high snow boots with fur trim is stylish but also functional, keeping your piggies nice and toasty. Layer some fitted black leggings and a black turtleneck for a monochrome look that still allows for plenty of movement on your hike.
Bright and warm
Long hikes in cool weather call for something a little brighter to keep the energies high. Plus, it helps if your bright piece is your jacket since it will keep you warm and toasty at the same time. This look is paired with some mitts and a matching beanie for a cohesive and practical look.
It also features compression leggings that will keep your legs warm, proving to be a popular choice among many hikers. The hiking boots double as winter boots, providing warmth and traction along the snowy hill.
There’s nothing more crucial to a winter hike than plenty of layers. This look features a warm winter coat with a fur trim hood for extra warmth in a deep green color that is contrasted by the bright orange sweater beneath.
But wait, there’s more. Beneath the orange sweater is another top, perfect for added warmth while still offering breathability and comfort. The jeans are cuffed around the ankle to show off the hiking boots, while also ensuring there’s no extra fabric to get caught during the hike.
What to Wear Hiking – Accessories
Whether you’re hiking or not, a water bottle is a daily essential. And if you’re leaving the house without one, it’s time to switch up your routine.
A larger bottle is definitely the best choice since you’ll be able to bring more water with you, while a latch on the lid makes for easy traveling and transportation.
Another thing to consider is insulation to keep your drink cool on even the warmest summer days. These bottles can also double as thermoses, which is definitely ideal for winter hikes.
Plus, you get extra points if it has a bunch of stickers plastered on it; you know, for that hiker chic vibe.
All good hikes require a backpack, no matter how long or short they are. If you simply want to bring along a camera, a snack, some SPF, a first aid kit, and your water bottle, opt for something a little smaller and condensed that will still be easy to carry atop your shoulders.
And if you need something more heavy-duty, there are a number of larger sizes on the market to fit anything from your next week’s worth of clothes and food to an entire tent and all your camping gear.
When it comes to outdoor activities, a good pair of sunglasses is a necessity for protecting your eyes and improving visibility. From Ray-Bans to Oakley glasses, there are plenty of brands and styles to choose from to suit your fancy.
Sunglasses provide ample protection, and some come with rubber nose and ear pads for added comfort. Plus, they’re stylish as well as functional, meaning you’ll be able to wear them for more than just hikes.
What Not to Wear Hiking
When considering what to wear hiking, there are also things you need to remember not to wear hiking. Non-breathable materials such as cotton and heavy boots on light hikes are only the half of it. With that being said, let’s get into everything you should avoid down below.
Layers are always a must, especially on longer journeys through the bushes. So, a thin spaghetti strap tank top and super short shorts are simply not going to cut it.
With layers, you’ll be able to take off what you need when you’re too warm, while still having on breathable and comfortable styles.
If you do choose to wear something super light, by the end of the hike, you may be covered in bug bites, snags, and burrs. That being said, it is definitely an appropriate choice for hot summer days on walks where you won’t be facing the forest.
Denim is definitely stylish, but it’s not exactly appropriate for hikes. It is thick, heavy, restricting, and can honestly be pretty darn uncomfortable. We’re talking about you, mom jeans.
Most denim can stop you from lifting your legs high enough and can get especially heavy when wet, weighing you down as you try to climb a mountain.
Another fabric that is less than ideal for hiking is silk. This material is definitely reserved for fancier events and cooler days since it soaks up sweat and liquid like a moth to a flame. And this isn’t the good, moisture-wicking kind of absorption when you’re hiking. It’s the ‘ruin your $72 top with sweat stains’ kind of nightmare.
Bras with clasps, uncomfortable cups, and pokey wires are also something to be avoided (though this goes for every piece of clothing). If you’ve got a zipper that rubs or a fabric that’s itchy, you should probably reconsider.
Heavy and oversized apparel can be an issue, as well. It’s important to be able to move freely during any exercise, and hiking definitely falls into this category. So, avoid larger or bulky jackets and pants that may weigh you down and potentially cause you to overheat.
By the same token, thin fabrics can also be an issue as they snag easily and don’t provide proper protection. Often fitted, thicker, yet breathable fabrics are the best option since they allow for plenty of movement while still being durable.
It’s also important to avoid thin or short socks as well since they offer little protection, support, or comfort, which are three things you need on a hike. Flimsy shoes definitely get tacked onto that idea, since you’ll get nowhere without the proper footwear.
Speaking of shoes, we’ll delve into the best shoes down below so you’ll have a well-rounded idea of what to wear hiking, from head to toe.
Best Shoes to Wear for Hiking
Whether you’re moving through snowy mountains, facing rocky terrain, or taking a light hike, sneakers and soft soles will never cut it. There’s a reason it’s called a ‘hike’ and not a ‘fall’—though waterfalls are usually at the top of the hike, and that’s when you’ll need shoes that are waterproof.
So, your options include snow boots, hiking boots, trail running shoes, and chukkas. Of course, snow boots are ideal for winter weather, while chukkas suit warmer days. Trail runners are ideal for light jogs, and hiking boots should cover most bases.
Whichever you need, each style is comfortable and breathable, while still being lightweight and functional. Plus, they’re geared towards specific weather conditions and need to get you started on the right foot.
The shoes should be sturdy and provide protection from cold, rocks, and anything else you might run into, like snakes or bugs. They also require plenty of traction to avoid slippage, and maybe even metal spikes for extra security.
Waterproof styles are always the best option since they’ll get you through anything, but the actual pair you end up choosing will ultimately depend on location and weather.
Best Places to Buy Hiking Apparel
When it comes to buying apparel, it’s important to choose a retailer that has all you want in one place. With that being said, if our list of what to wear hiking has inspired you (which we hope it has), you can shop for all the necessities from clothing to footwear to accessories at the following retailers:
- Altitude Sports
- Sport Chek
- North Face
- Mountain Warehouse
How to Maintain Your Hiking Apparel
Given all it endures, hiking apparel is designed to be durable. Companies boast that their items will last a lifetime and come with warranties to ensure they do.
It makes sense, though, since hiking gear is often a pretty penny and is definitely put through a lot.
Tough fabrics and high-quality design are at the heart of every item, but that doesn’t mean they don’t still require care to make them survive longer. So, that being said, here are a few tips to keep your gear lookin’ good as new:
- Clean your items after you use them following directions on the label
- Store them by hanging up properly, or carefully folding and putting away
- Sew and repair any tears as soon as they appear
- Wipe away debris at the end of every day
- Apply proper waterproofing to boots and jackets
While thorns and bushes may try their hand at damaging your pieces, proper care and maintenance will ensure that your pieces get the long life they deserve (and some rest for your wallet as well).
Overall, when deciding what to wear hiking, it’s important to keep the environment and weather in mind to ensure you opt for the right pieces. From boots to hats to apparel, everything you decide to wear should keep you feeling comfortable and warm/ dry enough.
So, always consider what you’re doing, where you’re going, and what the weather might be like and you’ll be all set to take on the next hike—whether that’s up a mountain or to a waterfall not too far from your house!
We hope this guide solved all your questions! If you’d like to see more, we’ve got you covered: